In July 2015, Zambia and other members of the regional body, adopted the ARIPO Plant Variety Protection (PVP) Protocol against the advice of the Zambia Alliance for Agro-ecology and Biodiversity Conservation (ZAABC) and other concerned citizens of Zambia and internationally. This will sell both food and farmers to multinational corporations such as Monsanto.
According to the Ecologist African governments, ignoring the protests of their farmers and civil society, last year agreed on an oppressive ‘plant variety protection protocol’ that will open up their countries to commercial seed monopolists, while limiting farmers rights to save, use, exchange, replant, improve, distribute and sell the seeds they have developed over countless generations.
This is a critical matter that will negatively affect national food security and small scale farmers rights and livelihoods in Zambia and the wider region.
Below is a PRess release by the Zambia Alliance for Agroecology and Biodiversity Conservation (ZAABC)
“Reject draft ARIPO regulations – Protect farmer’s rights”
The African Regional Intellectual Property Organization (ARIPO) Arusha protocol makes it illegal for farmers to save, reuse and exchange seed amongst themselves as they have always done.
Zambia and other members of the regional body, adopted the ARIPO Plant Variety Protection (PVP) Protocol in July 2015 against the advice of the Zambia Alliance for Agro-ecology and Biodiversity Conservation (ZAABC) and other concerned citizens of Zambia and internationally.
The draft ARIPO Regulations represent a ferocious campaign against seed saving by farmers in Africa. The draft regulations require small scale farmers to pay for the seed they save and propagate on their own holding, or face fines and punishment.
Zambia and other members of ARIPO will be reviewing the draft regulations for the implementation of the ARIPO protocol from 14-17 June 2016 in Harare Zimbabwe. A significant portion of these draft regulations are targeting farmers in a manner that is unduly punitive and intent on extorting the small scale farmer to the point where the country is in danger of losing all the progress made so far where small scale farmers have contributed massively to food production including maize which is now even available to countries around us that have maize deficits.
The Regulations contain provisions requiring farmers, seed processors, and certification agencies to provide information and monitor the use of farm saved seed by farmers. Clearly these provisions are designed to intimidate and force seed processors, seed suppliers, government certification officers and even farmers’ organizations to police and spy on farmers who use farm-saved protected seed. If they do not, the regulations allow the right holder (who could be an international seed company) to take legal action and sue the member state.
Zambia already has its own suis generis PVP Act of 2007 in place. This balances plant breeder and farmers’ rights. There is no legal obligation for Zambia to adopt a different regional protocol which will then override our national Act.
Our small-scale farmers should be allowed to freely exchange with other farmers and sell to local markets their farm saved seed and propagating material.
We, the Zambia Alliance for Agroecology and Biodiversity Conservation (ZAABC), a network of civil society organizations, farmer groups and concerned individuals, call upon Government to bring this process of developing the regulations for implementing the ARIPO protocol to a halt until more background work is done in order to prevent any harm to our farmers and the national agriculture production system.